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Threats of Pain and Ruin
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The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
edited by S.B. Kelly
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by Emmet Scott
Sir Walter Scott's Crusades and Other Fantasies
by Ibn Warraq
Fighting the Retreat from Arabia and the Gulf: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly. Vol. 1
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Literary Culture of France
by J. E. G. Dixon
Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays
by David P. Gontar
Farewell Fear
by Theodore Dalrymple
The Eagle and The Bible: Lessons in Liberty from Holy Writ
by Kenneth Hanson
The West Speaks
interviews by Jerry Gordon
Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy
Emmet Scott
Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy
Ibn Warraq
Anything Goes
by Theodore Dalrymple
Karimi Hotel
De Nidra Poller
The Left is Seldom Right
by Norman Berdichevsky
Allah is Dead: Why Islam is Not a Religion
by Rebecca Bynum
Virgins? What Virgins?: And Other Essays
by Ibn Warraq
An Introduction to Danish Culture
by Norman Berdichevsky
The New Vichy Syndrome:
by Theodore Dalrymple
Jihad and Genocide
by Richard L. Rubenstein
Spanish Vignettes: An Offbeat Look Into Spain's Culture, Society & History
by Norman Berdichevsky





















The Iconoclast

Sunday, 23 September 2007
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Rebecca Bynum has written several times on the misery inflicted on women in polygamous marriages in the Mormon church, here and here.  Readers may find this interview in the Sunday Telegraph with Irene Spencer nee Kunz of interest. Her book 'Shattered Dreams: My Life as a Polygamist Wife' was written as a response not just to Principle Voices (a group of Mormon women calling for polygamy to be decriminalised) but also to the palatable portrayal of polygamy in the American television drama series Big Love.
She left her shared husband numerous times only to return, had 13 children (her husband eventually fathered 58 children) and 119 grandchildren.  After his death she remarried a monogamous Morman with whom she is very happy. Some of her children are in polygamous marriages, and she feels guilt at this. The whole interview is here.

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Posted on 09/23/2007 11:24 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Sunday, 23 September 2007
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John Cage meets Marcel Marceau. Or did I just forget to turn the radio on?

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Posted on 09/23/2007 7:45 AM by Mary Jackson
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Sunday, 23 September 2007
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Henry Higgins would be envious. From The Telegraph:

A ten-year-old boy who underwent life-saving brain surgery has astonished doctors by emerging with a different accent.

William McCartney-Moore fell seriously ill with a rare strain of meningitis last March and had an operation to remove fluid on his brain.

But in the weeks since his treatment, William, from York, has lost his northern twang and acquired the elongated vowels of received pronunciation (RP).

His mother, Ruth McCartney-Moore, said: "He survived the operation and the most amazing thing is that he came out of surgery with a completely different accent."

The family first noticed the change in William’s accent after he left hospital in April: "We went on a family holiday to Northumberland and he was playing on the beach and he said 'Look, I’ve made a sand castle’ but really stretched the vowels, which made him sound really posh."

"We all just stared back at him — we couldn’t believe what we had heard because he had a northern accent before his illness. He had no idea why we were staring at him — he just thought he was speaking normally."

I'm glad the boy recovered - that's the main thing. It could be worse - he could have turned into a Brummie. Or suppose it had been the other way round, and a Yummy Mummy of Kensington found her son had turned into an oik. Eeek!

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Posted on 09/23/2007 6:06 AM by Mary Jackson
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Sunday, 23 September 2007
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So, farewell then
Marcel Marceau
White-faced French
Clown in a stripey
Shirt

"...................."
That was your
Catch phrase

© E. J. Throbb, aged 17¾

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Posted on 09/23/2007 4:17 AM by Mary Jackson
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Sunday, 23 September 2007
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The French mime artist Marcel Marceau has died.

The performer was known around the world for his silent portrayal of a white-faced clown with battered hat.

Born in Strasbourg in 1923, Marceau was inspired by silent era actors like Charlie Chaplin, and studied under mime master Etienne Decroux in Paris.

His character Bip, the white-faced clown in striped pullover and hat, made his first appearance in 1947.

Words fail me.

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Posted on 09/23/2007 4:05 AM by Mary Jackson
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Sunday, 23 September 2007
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Scotland on Sunday has two articles on how Mohammed Atif Siddique went from “silly wee” Scots schoolboy to terrorist.
MI5 chiefs are convinced Scotland's first home-grown al-Qaeda terrorist "would have ended up in a million bits" if they had not managed to stop him.
PARLIAMENT Hill is the cradle of the Canadian nation and Ottawa's biggest tourist attraction, its centrepiece the 295ft Peace Tower. Built in the mid-19th century, it is the heart of power in one of the most stable democracies in the Western world - and it was here that Islamist extremists plotted to carry out their most audacious atrocity since 9/11.
The plan was brutally simple. Armed jihadists would burst into the debating chamber and hold hostage the MPs inside while demanding Canada withdraw its troops from Afghanistan. Refusal to concur with such a demand would then lead to the summary execution of the country's prime minister, Stephen Harper, who would be beheaded live on the internet.
Among the terrorists, according to security sources, would be a Scot. Mohammed Atif Siddique, a polite and well-spoken 21-year-old born in Alva in Central Scotland, had left the family home in the pursuit of his goal of Holy War, and the Ottawa operation was to be his moment of bloody glory.
Ultimately, thanks to good intelligence gathering on the part of the Canadian authorities, the Ottawa plan failed and most of the alleged conspirators are currently in custody in Canada awaiting trial. Siddique, however, is not among them. Last week, a jury at the High Court in Glasgow convicted him of a string of other terror-related offences and he now faces up to 15 years behind bars.
This weekend Siddique's sister Ayesha wept as she and the rest of the family declared the innocence of the quiet and well-mannered boy who grew up in an archetypal small Scottish town. They said his crimes amounted to no more than "a silly wee boy" from Clackmannanshire using the internet to sate his curiosity about his religion and political beliefs. They say his name is being traduced for little more than "thought crime".
His lawyer, Aamer Anwar, claims Siddique is "more Austin Powers than James Bond". But the security services, claiming more knowledge about Siddique than was revealed in court, paint a very different picture. They say Siddique was being groomed as Scotland's first known al-Qaeda operative, trained to be a sophisticated combatant, using his mundane upbringing and background to fool those around him into believing he posed no threat to society.
Siddique's conviction has political repercussions too. In the aftermath of the Glasgow Airport terror attacks, First Minister Alex Salmond made a point of saying the men believed responsible were not home-grown Scots, and that Scotland should be reassured there was no enemy within. Now, with Siddique found guilty and the security services estimating there are 150 terror suspects in Scotland - including a number of native Scots - Salmond's self-congratulatory tone could be seen as complacent.
Two of the comments at the bottom of the article are relevant here:-
  • 5: Until all those liberal creeps realise that a sleeper is your next door neighbours lovely wee lad and he or she can come out of the wood work at VERY SHORT NOTICE and cause mayhem then fussing over guilty clowns like this will be a daily bore ...........
  • 6: They are all 'sleepers', they just have different alarm clocks.
The Scot's family say he had always been a good Muslim boy but had become radicalised through his connections at Glasgow Central Mosque. He had argued with his father, Mohammed snr, telling him he should stop selling alcohol at the family's corner shop. At college he had made inflammatory comments about supporting Osama bin Laden and wanting to be a suicide bomber.
Despite claims from Mohammed Atif Siddique's family last week that he has been the victim of a miscarriage of justice, investigators paint a different picture.
They believe the 21-year-old, found guilty last week of terror-related offences, was being groomed and brainwashed to carry out a bombing atrocity somewhere in the world.
His email conversations with a suspected al-Qaeda operative, who for legal reasons can only be identified as "the Englishman", indicate what a danger he was, according to security experts.
One told Scotland on Sunday: "If we had lost track of him then we would never have picked up his trail and the next time we did, he would have been in a million bits.
"It could have been on a British shopping mall floor or outside the US embassy in Islamabad or even on a desert plain in Afghanistan targeting UK troops, we will just never know."
He added: "But the fact he was in contact with the individuals he was, places Siddique in a different league to other terror suspects."
The comments were supported last night by a leading al-Qaeda expert, who testified for the Crown at Siddique's trial.
After the Canadian tip-off, police began intercepting every landline and mobile call Siddique made or received along with all his emails and texts. They observed silently as "the Englishman" and the Scot seemed to strike up a close bond. In one email, when Siddique had run away from home after a family argument, the man wrote to him: "I suggest you make a strategic return. The reason is we know what you desire to do for the sake of Allah."
More incriminating details of their communications are likely to emerge at the forthcoming trial of "the Englishman" south of the Border next month.
Whatever the explanation, police believe one thing is for sure. If Siddique really was al-Qaeda's man in Scotland, he will already have been replaced. Having learnt from the mistakes of his predecessor, the new recruit will simply be biding his time. 
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Posted on 09/23/2007 2:07 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Saturday, 22 September 2007
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On the subject of language change, we should be disinterested but not uninterested. Some people confuse those words. Should the offenders be hung by their participles? Here is David Crystal on language change, the pain it causes and the linguistic variation giving rise to it:

Everyone is aware of the fact of language change, and I have never met anyone who is entirely happy about it. Even linguists, dispassionate observers of all things linguistic, as they are supposed to be, can be heard off-duty complaining about various usages they do not like. The difference, I would hope, is that linguists are capable of recognizing these feelings for what they are, and are not in the business of trying to impose their personal views on society at large, in the manner of a crusade. They would also, I hope, recognize that linguistic change is unavoidable, an intrinsic feature of language, deep-rooted in its social milieu. The tidal metaphor above is a good one. Try to stop linguistic change, as purist commentators recommend Canutely, and you have to stop social change. It would be easier to stop the tide coming in.

[...]

Some have seen language change as part of a perfectionist ethic, as an evolution towards a superior state of being - a golden age of the future. More common is to see it as evidence of a gradual slide towards dissolution - a sad departure from a golden age of the past. Both views are misconceived. There is no such thing as a single path of language change. As you read this article, language is changing around you in thousands of tiny different ways. Some sounds are slowly shifting; some words are changing their senses; some grammatical constructions are being used with greater or less frequency; new styles and varieties are constantly being formed and shaped. And everything is happening at different speeds and moving in different directions. The language is in a constant state of multidimensional flux. There is no predictable direction for the changes that are taking place. They are just that: changes. Not changes for the better; nor changes for the worse; just changes, sometimes going one way, sometimes another.

Over the course of decades, or centuries, it is possible to see this see-sawing in action. There are even cases of changes reversing themselves. At one point in time, X becomes Y, and at another Y becomes X again. A classic example is the contemporary trend to use disinterested in the sense of 'uninterested'. In a recent Daily Post (7 November 1995), I read the headline 'North disinterested in Cardiff scheme' (a reference to a poll which showed that people in North Wales were not interested in a new development in the south of the principality). The copy-editor meant 'indifferent', but he used the word which traditionally means 'impartial'. (In 20th-century standard usage, a judge should be disinterested in a case, but not uninterested in it.) People argue, on this basis, that the language is losing a semantic distinction (not true, incidentally, as there are many other words available in the language to express the same difference in meaning - I have just used two of them). What is important to note is that the use of disinterested in the sense of 'uninterested' is in fact earIier than its sense of 'impartial'; and conversely, the early use of uninterested was in the sense of 'impartial'. Both are recorded with these senses in the early 17th century. The two words, it seems, have for some time been circling warily around a meaning, uncertain how best to handle it. The change went first one way, then the other. And who knows what will happen to it next.

More on the discomfort of language change in my August piece here.

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Posted on 09/22/2007 11:26 AM by Mary Jackson
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Saturday, 22 September 2007
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There is much talk these days of "globalisation". The world, we are told, confusingly and nigh on tautologically, is getting more global. But it nearly went pear shaped. From The Spectator:

‘I find that the earth is not as round as it is described, but it is shaped like a pear,’ Christopher Columbus wrote after his return from America, ‘with a woman’s nipple in one place, and this projecting part is highest and nearest heaven.’

Determining the shape of the surface on which we live is, as Donal O’Shea observes in this historically minded little book, a delicate matter. Columbus’s idea was not (at least, not only) the lascivious fantasy of a hoary sea dog. He believed that he had reached India, not America. But he also knew that he had completed the journey much more quickly than the accepted size of the world allowed: the well-travelled southern route suggested Asia was thousands of miles further away. A mammary planet, God-seeking nipple northward, was the only explanation. Even after Ferdinand Magellan returned from his circumnavigation in 1522, it wasn’t (as O’Shea, who is pernickety as well as entertaining, remarks) clear that Earth was a sphere. There were just so many potential complications that he might have missed. It could have been an American doughnut: he could have sailed through the chocolate icing, and returned to Spain without even noticing the hole that he’d looped in the middle. Worse still, it might have been a pretzel.

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Posted on 09/22/2007 11:01 AM by Mary Jackson
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Saturday, 22 September 2007
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Can a parrot speak, or can it just - er - parrot? From The Economist (h/t Alan):

THE last time Irene Pepperberg saw Alex she said goodnight as usual. “You be good,” said Alex. “I love you.” “I love you, too.” “You'll be in tomorrow?” “Yes, I'll be in tomorrow.” But Alex (his name supposedly an acronym of Avian Learning Experiment) died in his cage that night, bringing to an end a life spent learning complex tasks that, it had been originally thought, only primates could master.

[...]

Using a training technique now employed on children with learning difficulties, in which two adults handle and discuss an object, sometimes making deliberate mistakes, Dr Pepperberg and her collaborators at the University of Arizona began teaching Alex how to describe things, how to make his desires known and even how to ask questions.

By the end, said Dr Pepperberg, Alex had the intelligence of a five-year-old child and had not reached his full potential. He had a vocabulary of 150 words. He knew the names of 50 objects and could, in addition, describe their colours, shapes and the materials they were made from. He could answer questions about objects' properties, even when he had not seen that particular combination of properties before. He could ask for things—and would reject a proffered item and ask again if it was not what he wanted. He understood, and could discuss, the concepts of “bigger”, “smaller”, “same” and “different”. And he could count up to six, including the number zero (and was grappling with the concept of “seven” when he died). He even knew when and how to apologise if he annoyed Dr Pepperberg or her collaborators.

And the fact that there were a lot of collaborators, even strangers, involved in the project was crucial. Researchers in this area live in perpetual fear of the “Clever Hans” effect. This is named after a horse that seemed to count, but was actually reacting to unconscious cues from his trainer. Alex would talk to and perform for anyone, not just Dr Pepperberg.

There are still a few researchers who think Alex's skills were the result of rote learning rather than abstract thought. Alex, though, convinced most in the field that birds as well as mammals can evolve complex and sophisticated cognition, and communicate the results to others. A shame, then, that he is now, in the words of Monty Python, an ex-parrot.

Of course parrots can speak. They can even speak Yiddish.

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Posted on 09/22/2007 10:52 AM by Mary Jackson
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Saturday, 22 September 2007
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Melanie Phillips:

People who go to see the movie A Mighty Heart, which is based on the kidnap and murder of the journalist Daniel Pearl, might do well to read this painfully restrained and measured comment by his father, Prof Judea Pearl, on today’s Guardian Comment is Free blog:

At the same time, I am worried that the film falls into a trap Russell would have recognised: the paradox of moral equivalence, of seeking to extend the logic of tolerance a step too far. You can see traces of this logic in the film’s comparison of Danny’s abduction with Guantánamo (it opens with pictures from the prison) and of al-Qaida militants with CIA agents. You can also see it in the comments of the movie’s director, Michael Winterbottom, who wrote in the Washington Post that A Mighty Heart and his previous film, The Road to Guantanamo, were very similar: ‘There are extremists on both sides who want to ratchet up the levels of violence and hundreds of thousands of people have died because of this.’

Drawing a comparison between Danny’s murder and the detention of suspects in Guantánamo is precisely what the killers wanted, as expressed in both their emails and the murder video. Indeed, following an advance screening of A Mighty Heart in Los Angeles, a representative of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said: ‘We need to end the culture of bombs, torture, occupation, and violence. This is the message to take from the film.’ Yet the message that angry youngsters are hearing from such blanket generalisation is predictable: all forms of violence are equally evil; therefore, as long as one persists, others should not be ruled out. This is precisely the logic used by Mohammed Siddique Khan, one of the London suicide bombers, in his video. ‘Your democratically elected government,’ he told his fellow Britons, ‘continues to perpetrate atrocities against my people … [We] will not stop.’

Danny’s tragedy demands an end to this logic. There can be no comparison between those who take pride in the killing of an unarmed journalist and those who vow to end such acts. Moral relativism died with Daniel Pearl, in Karachi, on January 31 2002.

The doctrine of moral equivalence, the default position of the secular west, is the core reason why the west is losing the battle to defend itself against the terrorist and cultural jihad. Equivalence is actually a misleading word in this context, since the notion that violence begets violence and both are equally culpable is not just noxious in itself by failing to acknowledge the moral difference between an act of aggression and an act of self-defence against that aggression; it immediately morphs into a justification of that original act of aggression. It is therefore not only amoral but suicidal. And yet it is the knee-jerk posture of so many western intellectuals and media darlings.

To Daniel Pearl belonged the mighty heart; but those who abuse his memory in this way are inflicting a monstrous hurt

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Posted on 09/22/2007 10:48 AM by Mary Jackson
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Saturday, 22 September 2007
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MEMRI gives a good example of how Muslims cannot understand intellectual curiosity and are suspicious of it.

Following an Israeli television interview that aired April 14, 2007 with Prof. Menahem Milson about the novel Girls of Riyadh by Saudi author Rajaa Al-Sanie, Saudi columnist Sa'ud Kabili wrote in the Saudi daily Al-Watan that academic institutions in Arab countries must research Israel, so as to gain information that will serve as a source of power against it.

The following are the excerpts from the article:

"The Interview, Which Aired On... (An Israeli Arabic-Language Channel), Featured Menahem Milson, Professor of Arabic Language At the HebrewUniversity, Who Spoke Arabic with Amazing Fluency"

"In our era of globalization, knowledge has no temporal or spatial boundaries. Therefore, while browsing the website of MEMRI (The Middle East Media Research Institute), I was not surprised to find an interview devoted to the novel Girls of Riyadh by the Saudi author Rajaa Al-Sanie aired on the Israeli television network. [1] [The interview] dealt with the literary aspect of the novel, as well as with its cultural implications for Saudi society. The interview, which aired on April 14, 2007 on Channel 33 (an Israeli Arabic- language channel), featured Menahem Milson, professor of Arabic language at the Hebrew University, who spoke Arabic with amazing fluency... "

We Were Shocked "When We Realized the Extent of This Israeli Intellectual's Interest in... the Countries of the Region"

"Let us leave aside for a moment the shock we all felt when we realized the extent of this intellectual's interest in the countries of the region, in everything that was happening in these countries and in their cultural climate... so much so that Professor Milson was familiar with the source of the title, which was taken from a famous poem by the artist 'Abd Al-Majid 'Abdallah. [Furthermore, he] discussed the opinions of the critics who had reviewed the novel, and even refuted [some of their claims] - for example, [the claim] that the use of local dialect in the novel [is a literary flaw]. Most infuriating was the depth of analysis attained by this Israeli intellectual... Indeed, he could use this analysis whichever way he pleases - even if it involved modifying the facts to serve his interests...

"If we compare this interest with the situation in Saudi Arabia and the Arab world, the scales will tip in Israel's favor. If we juxtapose the scope of knowledge [amassed by] one side against that of the other, in the political, economic, social, and cultural spheres, the scales will again tip in Israel's favor. Our failure to appreciate sufficiently the significance of knowing the enemy has harmed our position on the scales... Language is an important factor in breaking the barrier to power.

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Posted on 09/22/2007 9:54 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Saturday, 22 September 2007
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WaPo: CHICAGO, Sept. 21 -- The money spent on one day of the Iraq war could buy homes for almost 6,500 families or health care for 423,529 children, or could outfit 1.27 million homes with renewable electricity, according to the American Friends Service Committee, which displayed those statistics on large banners in cities nationwide Thursday and Friday.

The war is costing $720 million a day or $500,000 a minute, according to the group's analysis of the work of Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz and Harvard public finance lecturer Linda J. Bilmes. ...

The $720 million figure breaks down into $280 million a day from Iraq war supplementary funding bills passed by Congress, plus $440 million daily in incurred, but unpaid, long-term costs.

But some supporters of the Bush administration's policy in Iraq say that even if the war is costly, that fact is essentially immaterial.

"Either you think the war in Iraq supports America's national security, or not," said Frederick W. Kagan, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. "If you think national security won't be harmed by withdrawing from Iraq, of course you would want to see that money spent elsewhere. I myself think that belief, on a certain level, is absurd, so the question of focusing on how much money we are spending there is irrelevant." ...

To see a picture of Frederick Kagan "Hero of Baghdad" click here.

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Posted on 09/22/2007 9:39 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Saturday, 22 September 2007
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From the NYT:

New York State, home to more than 500,000 illegal immigrants, will issue driver’s licenses without regard to immigration status under a policy change announced yesterday by Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

The change rolls back rules adopted four years ago under the Pataki administration that made it difficult, if not impossible, for tens of thousands of immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses because they could not prove legal status. Under the new rules, the Department of Motor Vehicles will accept a current foreign passport as proof of identity without also requiring a valid yearlong visa or other evidence of legal immigration.

The policy, which does not require legislative approval, will be phased in starting in December and will be tied to new antifraud measures, the governor said. Those measures will include the authentication of foreign passports and the use of photo comparison technology to ensure that no driver has more than one license.

The governor called it a “common sense change” that will improve traffic safety and lower insurance costs for all New Yorkers by ensuring that more immigrants have valid licenses and auto insurance. Giving more immigrants verifiable identification will also enhance law enforcement by bringing people out of the shadows, he asserted.

“The D.M.V. is not the I.N.S.,” Mr. Spitzer said, referring to the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, now part of Homeland Security, by its old initials of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

The move goes against the national trend. Many states, prodded by demands to crack down on identity fraud, have added requirements that effectively prevent illegal immigrants from obtaining driver’s licenses.

All but eight states now require drivers to prove legal status to obtain driver’s licenses, and those eight — Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Washington — have come under pressure to add such a requirement.

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Posted on 09/22/2007 8:03 AM by Andy McCarthy
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Saturday, 22 September 2007
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Not for the first time, John Derbyshire distances himself from the camp of the “Islamophobes”. Isamophobes,  he claims, are generally “Christians of the angry kind”, with the odd “good egg” Christian such as Robert Spencer, or agnostic such as Ibn Warraq, thrown in. And a Jewish Bat Ye’or and quite a few Buddhists. Oh, and “several million angry Hindus”. Indeed, during the course of Derbyshire’s article, the camp of the Islamophobes grows more diverse by the minute, such that one is tempted to think that what brings them together is not an "angry" urge to proclaim the rightness of their religion – or lack of one -  and the wrongness of Islam, but a reasoned, logical dislike of Islam, based on knowledge, experience and understanding. 

In a footnote to his article, Derbyshire says: 

**Note on the word “Islamophobia”: Roger Kimball tells me this is the wrong word. A phobia (says Roger) is an irrational fear of something. Fear of Islam is perfectly rational! I leave you to discuss this among yourselves.  

But why leave it to your readers to ask whether fear of Islam is rational? Surely this question is central to any discussion of Islamophobia. Does Derbyshire think fear of Islam is irrational? Not entirely. He acknowledges that there is something to fear from Islam, perhaps more than from other religions, and he should be alive to the possibility that, if he overcame his boredom and read more about it, he would uncover more that is threatening – and frightening.

 

Derbyshire concedes that we should stop Muslim immigration, but only because we should stop, or at least restrict, all immigration: the West is superior to other any other civilisation, and its achievements – and its borders – must be defended. Fair enough. I am a great believer in Western superiority – no other civilisations come close to ours – and what is superior must be defended. However, by putting Islam into the same category as other non-Western civilisations, Derbyshire overlooks the fact that Islam is uniquely threatening, not just to us but to all non-Muslims. Islam, and only Islam, has at its core a division of the world into believers and infidels, and the commandment, for all time, to convert, subjugate or kill the infidels until the world is conquered. Non-Muslim immigrants to the West integrate, often successfully, and have no such commandment. Muslim immigration is uniquely dangerous. Even if Muslims do not know their texts, the texts have not changed and the fundamental – not “fundamentalist” – requirement to wage jihad can be rediscovered, and acted upon, at any time.

 

Derbyshire talks of Islam as a “religion” which has given comfort to many “souls”. In doing so, he overlooks its political component. Islam is not just a religion, it is a “complete way of life” and one which is threatening, to the West, to the Buddhists of Thailand, to the Animists of the Sudan, the Zoroastrians of Iran, to the atheists, the agnostics, and to Derbyshire himself.

 

Derbyshire confesses to seeing “some appeal” in “Islam” because it is a “masculine”, “fighting faith”. Certainly Islam is a violent religion, which has conquered by force superior but non-violent civilisations. However, while Islam is aggressively “masculine”, with rape not only a weapon of war, but a perfectly normal act when sanctioned by the Koran, I would not call it a “manly” faith. Slaughtering innocent women and children in an Israeli pizza parlour, killing schoolchildren in Beslan, beheading peaceful Jewish farmers, killing office workers, commuters and poets – these acts are not manly. They are cowardly and brutish. If Derbyshire wishes to get sentimental about soldiering and manly courage, he has picked a bad example.

 

Moreover, qital, or violent struggle, is only one aspect of jihad, and not even the most important. Da’wah (propaganda) and demographic conquest are far more insidious and effective weapons in the spread of Islam. Look at how so many Muslims have embraced the victim culture, whining about "hurt feelings" over remarks made by the Pope, or a few cartoons. The very word "Islamophobia" is the battle-cry of the bleaters. Manly? Big boys aren't supposed to cry, but where crying works better than fighting, Muslims can weep buckets. A “fighting faith”, certainly, but Islam fights dirty, by sabotage and by stealth. And, as the enemy within, it is fighting us.

 

I am pleased that John Derbyshire has written on this subject. He is wrong, but he will provoke a great deal of debate, and in the course of proving him wrong, much constructive and instructive argument will emerge.

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Posted on 09/22/2007 6:53 AM by Mary Jackson
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Saturday, 22 September 2007
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John Derbyshire declares that he doesn't like Islamophobia. In fact he is "Islamophobophobic":

Why, when I read books like Robert Spencer’s, do I feel my irritation — my Islamophobophobia — rising?

A part of it is my dislike of narrow-minded ideological boosterism, of which there is a lot in the Islamophobe business. Many of the noisiest Islamophobes are committed Christians of one kind or another, usually of the angry kind — the same people, I suspect, who e-mail in to tell me that I am a “nihilist” with no morals.

[...]

Heaven forbid anyone should take me for a multiculturalist — “All religions are equally good!” See my first bullet point above. Still less am I a Hitchensite — “All religions are equally bad!”

It is none the less true that Islam, whatever its failings, is an ancient and respectable religion that comforts and sustains hundreds of millions of souls, and has provided one of the organizing principles for numerous substantial civilizations. Possibly those civilizations weren’t to your taste. They probably wouldn’t have been to mine, either. If you have ever thought seriously and imaginatively about what life is like in a state of barbarism, though, you will acknowledge that even not-to-your-taste civilizations are a vast improvement on the other thing.

It is likewise true, even on the worst figures (which can be found in Mark Steyn’s book, on page 76 for example), that the great majority of present-day Muslims don’t approve of terrorism, and would like to live lives of peace, prosperity, and security.

[...]

Would I exclude foreign Muslims from settlement in the U.S.A.? Yes, I would; but this is not actually saying much, as I would stop all mass immigration if I could. Islam needs particular attention because of the sheer quantity of lunacy it has thrown up in the present generation; but it is not the only counterexample to the Diversity Theorem, only the most pressing one.

As to the cultural aridity of Islamic civilizations: well, yes. This is not an exceptionalism belonging to Islam, though. The exceptionalism belongs to us, to the West. We are dynamic and creative; we are fired by curiosity to inquire into the natural order; we are driven by imagination to set off and explore remote places; our culture progresses through developmental stages, each building on the last..

I’m therefore inclined to cut Islam some slack. It’s a religion, bringing the consolations of faith to multitudes. Most of its believers are decent people, who pay no attention to the fiercer verses of scripture.

[...]

I’ll even admit to seeing some appeal in Islam. I think this came through in my review of Robert Spencer’s book.

An ordinary human being, or at least, an ordinary human male, ought to want some militancy in his religion. I noted in my review that if Robert’s subtitle is a true statement — i.e. that Christianity is a religion of peace, while Islam isn’t — then the result of a real clash between the two faiths would be a foregone conclusion! Surely it is plain from history that if Christianity had no militant component — no inbuilt justifications for homicide — it would not have made it through the Middle Ages.

There is both a male and a female principle in any religion, but usually one or other principle is to some degree more prominent. Judaism is, in (I think) obvious ways, a more “masculine” religion than Christianity or Buddhism; the Old Testament more “masculine” than the New; and within Christianity, Protestantism is more “masculine” than Catholicism. Islam strikes an outside observer as the most “masculine” of all the big faiths.

In Islam [...] every man, however he makes his living, is a soldier of the faith. This resonated with British military men. To this day, if you show up at a recruiting station to join the British army, the NCO will tell you: “Yes, you may get trained for something useful. You may become a cook, a driver, an engineer. There are great opportunities. But first we’ll make a soldier out of you.

Read it all here.

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Posted on 09/22/2007 5:55 AM by Mary Jackson
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Saturday, 22 September 2007
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The Shree Swaminarayan Temple Cardiff are inviting everybody, and they really do mean everybody,  to their Silver Jubilee (25 years) celebrations which have been going on all week and continue today with a procession through Cardiff starting at 2pm this afternnon. Details here.

Those of us who cannot get to Cardiff are invited to join them via a live webcam stream which can be reached through THIS LINK.

This sounds like a wonderful joyous event and a chance to join in with our neighbours.

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Posted on 09/22/2007 4:49 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Friday, 21 September 2007
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Radio Derb is on the air.
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Posted on 09/21/2007 4:11 PM by John Derbyshire
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Friday, 21 September 2007
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It seems that it is not just Christmas open to accusations of commercialisation – the price of Ramadan tents in Dubai is getting out of hand.
The tradition of late night Ramadan tents is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain as tent operators charge exorbitant prices for their services this year, Dubai residents have complained.
The tradition which has roots in post iftar Ramadan gatherings in the Arab world where members of a community meet to socialise, read the Quran or have the pre-dawn suhoor meal, has turned into a cash machine, they say.
The tent tradition has evolved into late night social gatherings where smoking shisha and having Arabic coffee in air conditioned tents is popular.
"It has become so difficult to keep up with our Ramadan tradition now. I used to go to a Ramadan tent every evening last year, but it seems that everybody is out to maximise their profit at the expense of our enjoyment," said Ali Khalid, a Dubai resident.
"I was shocked to see one hotel charging a minimum of Dh3,000 per night for VIP tables," he said.
Rami Shehadeh, Managing Director of IC events, which has set up a massive 'Living Room' tent in the Dubai Media City, told Gulf News the ambience his tent offers has not been matched yet. The tent, which accommodates 800 people, introduced a Dh100 cover charge for each of its 31 VIP sofa sets. Shehadeh said that upgrading of services, such as the introduction of live music bands, is necessary to stay ahead of competition, and "that costs us a lot".
Although the Living Room's price hikes are modest in comparison to some other tents, Shehadeh said a market exists for Ramadan tents no matter how expensive they become. "We were filled to capacity from day one of Ramadan."
Mu'ayyad Mehyar, 40ofJordan, Abu Dhabi said "I used to look forward to Ramadan but I'm not as enthusiastic as before. That is because the right context is not there anymore. The month is losing its religious character. It is becoming too commercialised and people do not understand the wisdom behind fasting, which is to purify the self, the soul and the body. People just eat more and watch more TV during Ramadan."
Related articles are:-
It is peak season for TV viewing in the Arab world and
'Greatest peril' of Ramadan is overindulgence'  
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Posted on 09/21/2007 2:22 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Friday, 21 September 2007
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This is a news item from the Eastern Daily Press yesterday – a man after my own heart on a trip I would like to make myself.
A motorcyclist riding around the nation's 55 seaside piers passed through Norfolk yesterday.
Cromer pier was 40th on the hit list of retired shopfitting company director Roger Fellows who is doing the trip as a charity venture.
The 3,500-mile tour is being organised by the Round Table to raise funds and publicity for the Anthony Nolan Trust's work with bone marrow donations to help leukaemia sufferers.
Having got back on track he is currently on the East Anglian leg of his 3,500-mile tour due to end at Brighton by the weekend.
His journey, now astride a Honda CBF 1000 after his earlier accident on a scrambler bike, had taken him to “some grand piers in full swing with candy floss” and others which were “virtually derelict fishing jetties.
Unfortunately his website does not seem to be up and running.
Cromer Pier is lovely, a well kept Edwardian Pier with a modern Lifeboat Station at the very end and a working theatre and restaurant.
Today he probably went to Southwold Pier and Felixstowe Pier. Southwold Pier is a new one, built in the last five years by the people of Southwold, some of whom contributed via plaques along the handrails, in memory of dead parents, or celebrating a birth or graduation. There is an exhibition of mad mechanical automatons and a conference room also licensed for weddings which mean that the pier is financially viable and independent.
Felixstowe Pier has been shut for a good 10 years and every silly scheme put forward by the family who own it for its use (revolving restaurant indeed) fails as the fabric rots a little more. The skateboard ramp wobbles in the wind and I fully expect to hear that it is now so unsafe it must be demolished. It is not the obvious thing to photograph in Felixstowe which is why the only photo I have is from a distance, when I was photographing the foreground.
There are other piers, Walton had a good fun fair the last time I was there.
And then there is Southend Pier, the longest in the world which keeps suffering accidents.
They are part of the British seasdie holiday and letting them rot is a waste. Cromer and Southwold are two examples of the asset a pier can be to a seaside town.
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Posted on 09/21/2007 1:48 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Friday, 21 September 2007
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WaPo: The operators of two money-transfer businesses in the District, including a man suspected of attempting to provide funding to al-Qaeda, are among 45 people charged in an international investigation of alleged money laundering and other crimes, federal authorities in Maryland announced yesterday.

Operation Cash-Out, as it was called, spanned more than four years and included elaborate stings that also exposed what authorities described as efforts to bribe Maryland tax officials and federal immigration officials. The defendants included suspects in Spain, Canada and Belgium. Nearly all were born in Pakistan, authorities said, and many of those in the United States were in the country illegally.

Four indictments made public yesterday describe hawalas, money exchanges used in many Muslim countries, that operate by transferring money around the globe without reliance on traditional banking systems and regulations.

In recent years, law enforcement authorities have cracked down on the informal exchanges, which investigators have long suspected Osama bin Laden has used to move money and finance the activities of his terrorist network.

"It's a crude form of Western Union," said James A. Dinkins, a special agent in charge of the Baltimore office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, speaking at a news conference. ...

As the indictments describe the stings, cooperating witnesses provided millions of dollars in cash to hawala operators at meetings in Laurel, the District and elsewhere. That money was then given, less commissions, to recipients who were also cooperating witnesses. The indictments describe cash handoffs of $100,000 or more in Madrid, Amsterdam, Sydney and other cities...

According to the indictment, Ranjha, 44, transferred money through his hawala for a cooperating witness who told him the funds would be used to support al-Qaeda. The indictment does not say how much money he allegedly intended to pass from the witness to the terrorist group.

Some of the defendants allegedly promised to pay almost $500,000 -- and did pay much of it -- to a cooperating witness in the belief that the money would be delivered to a U.S. immigration official in exchange for permanent resident cards.

The indictment also alleges that the brothers who own the convenience stores in Snow Hill conspired to pay $450,000 in bribes that they thought would be given to an official of the Maryland Comptroller's Office. Federal officials alleged that the men wanted the release of more than $1.8 million in state sales and use tax assessments levied against their convenience stores and other businesses.

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Posted on 09/21/2007 10:50 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Friday, 21 September 2007
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Madman or genius? The terracotta army proves China's First Emperor was both.

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Posted on 09/21/2007 8:07 AM by Mary Jackson
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Friday, 21 September 2007
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New Duranty: BAGHDAD, Sept. 20 — Iraq’s Ministry of Interior has concluded that employees of a private American security firm fired an unprovoked barrage in the shooting last Sunday in which at least eight Iraqis were killed and is proposing a radical reshaping of the way American diplomats and contractors here are protected.

In the first comprehensive account of the day’s events, the ministry said that security guards for Blackwater USA, a company that guards all senior American diplomats here, fired on Iraqis in their cars in midday traffic.

The document concludes that the dozens of foreign security companies here should be replaced by Iraqi companies, and that a law that has given the companies immunity for years be scrapped.

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Posted on 09/21/2007 6:25 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Thursday, 20 September 2007
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A cartoon depicting Prophet Muhammad as a dog, published in a local Swedish newspaper in August, did not constitute incitement to racial hatred, Sweden's justice chancellor ruled on Thursday.
Three Swedish Muslim organizations had asked Justice Chancellor Göran Lambertz - the only official in Sweden entitled to indict in cases concerning freedom of the press - to press charges of incitement to racial hatred against the newspaper Nerikes Allehanda and its editor-in-chief Ulf Johansson.
The paper published the cartoon to illustrate a leader on the importance of freedom of speech.
Lambertz noted that for the charge to stick, it needed to be proven that "contempt" was expressed.
"Neither the leader nor the sketch, which has a satirical tone, expresses contempt against any ethnic group," he said in a statement. "While many practicing Muslims may perceive primarily the cartoon as offensive, neither the content of the article nor the cartoon can be considered as crossing the line of what is permissible within the freedom of the press," he said. "The justice chancellor will therefore not pursue the matter." 
So at last someone in authority understands that Islam is not a race, but an ideology.
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Posted on 09/20/2007 4:10 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Thursday, 20 September 2007
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From the website This is Local London today. I am not in the least bit surprised.
BOOKS by radical Muslim authors who advocate violent jihad are available in Waltham Forest's public libraries.
The report, Hate on the State, (this is the same report that found works of jihad in Tower Hamlets libraries, which I wrote about last week) claims the borough's libraries stock 70 books by Abu Ala Maududi, the founder of Jamaat-e-Islami, which it describes as the main Islamist group in Pakistan.
The CSC also found 20 books by Dilwar Hussain Sayeedi, one of the leaders of the Bangladeshi branch of Jamaat-e-Islami. The report claims he has compared Hindus to excrement and defended attacks on the minority Ahmadi community by his supporters.
A SPOKESMAN for Waltham Forest Council said: "Two of the authors listed have work stocked by Waltham Forest libraries.
"The works by the other seven authors that appear on our catalogue are in fact stocked by the five other library authorities that are part of the London Libraries Consortium and each has its own stock policies."
"Library stock is chosen by library staff in line with our annually revised stock policy and the over-riding aim is to select a balanced selection of books that is not biased towards any one political or religious point of view."
Cabinet member for leisure, arts and culture, Cllr Geraldine Reardon, said: "We do not seek to censor literature nor do we seek to promote any particular point of view. We are currently reviewing our stock policy to ensure that the stock is well balanced and meets the needs of the users of Waltham Forest Libraries”.
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Posted on 09/20/2007 1:34 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Thursday, 20 September 2007
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"Dozy bint" is too good for Naomi Klein:

Here's another theory: Israel's economy isn't booming despite the political chaos that devours the headlines but because of it. This phase of development dates back to the mid-'90s, when Israel was in the vanguard of the information revolution--the most tech-dependent economy in the world. After the dot-com bubble burst in 2000, Israel's economy was devastated, facing its worst year since 1953. Then came 9/11, and suddenly new profit vistas opened up for any company that claimed it could spot terrorists in crowds, seal borders from attack and extract confessions from closed-mouthed prisoners.

Within three years, large parts of Israel's tech economy had been radically repurposed. Put in Friedmanesque terms: Israel went from inventing the networking tools of the "flat world" to selling fences to an apartheid planet. Many of the country's most successful entrepreneurs are using Israel's status as a fortressed state, surrounded by furious enemies, as a kind of twenty-four-hour-a-day showroom--a living example of how to enjoy relative safety amid constant war. And the reason Israel is now enjoying supergrowth is that those companies are busily exporting that model to the world.

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Posted on 09/20/2007 11:40 AM by Mary Jackson
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